How often do you think about your customer expectations? I mean really, does it ever come up in your meetings as something that should be addressed? If I were a fly on the wall at your next marketing or sales meeting, would I hear anything that has to do with customer expectations? Hmm.
Here’s a real-life example from my own personal experience as a customer when my expectations clearly did not match the delivery of service –very sad and ultimately devastating for a business.
We usually don’t think about it, but subconsciously all of us as customers have elevated expectations when we come in contact with a business. These expectations translate to a certain level of customer service expectation as well, which is important to many of us especially when we are visiting a quick service restaurant (QSR). Our expectations are to be served in a short period of time and we should at least be acknowledged while standing at the register.
When Customer Expectations Don’t Match Customer Service
When poor service happens multiple times in the same week at the same place, then you know there is a big problem with that establishment’s level of care and concern for the customer. Imagine all the money they are losing when people like me enter their business ready to spend money and walk out because of frustration. Wait, it gets worse, we then tell others about this business because of increased frustration and poor level of service. Now, this has the potential to swowball to a much bigger sphere of influence beyond just the people that entered the business… eek. If I were the business owner or manager, I would stop this immediately. But who knows, they may not even know.
This may be just one personal experience, however, as a customer, expectations (and customer experience) are very real and critical for business leaders to continually pay attention to regardless of the type of business. As a marketing and communications leader, I think about customer expectations because I want to craft a brand experience for them they will remember and embrace and want to return to and even more importantly, share their positive experience with others. I may not work for a restaurant, but I do work for a brand that relies heavily on digital, web, social, email, video and face-to-face interactions. All of these are critically important. The immediacy and quality of our brand’s interaction with the customer and the quality of it is very important, regardless of who that customer is and where they are in the purchase process.
“As connectivity becomes ubiquitous and customers grow used to conversational interactions with brands, immediacy has become vital.” – Sales Force
How Do Sales and Marketing Teams Fit In?
Now, let’s translate this to today’s sales and marketing teams. If we have customers visiting our website they are clearly interested in getting to know the business better and maybe even ready to take the next step in the purchase process. What if we as an organization don’t respond quickly or favorably? What happens to that customer? My best guess is, they drift away and look for a business that pays closer attention to their needs. According to Forrester, “we’re five years into the Age of the Customer, in which newly empowered customers place elevated expectations on every interaction they have with brands.” What does that mean for us marketers? It means we need to interact and engage them at every possible touch point – especially digital.
“Those who have the best digital experiences will spend 140% more than those who have the poorest experiences.” – Harvard Business Review – via Vengreso [PODCAST]
Customer Clues – Are You Paying Attention?
That being said, marketers and sales professionals need to pay closer attention to their customers’ needs, wants, and interactions. They are giving us clues to what makes them tick and how they want to be treated. The digital environment, which was the new frontier over 20 years ago, isn’t new any longer. But, it is changing rapidly and we need to keep pace with our customers’ expectations and communication preferences on digital. If we as marketers craft brand-level experiences that are yielding poor customer experiences and not meeting their expectations, you can bet those customers will disappear, possibly never to return.
Scott MacFarland is a lifelong marketer with a passion for content, marketing, digital, social, web, video, analytics, and all things that lead to successful conversions. Scott is currently the Marketing Director for HMY Yachts in Jupiter, Florida.
Photo Credit: Photo by Lovefreund – CC0 License